Instructional work receives national attention
Last month, Instructional Services’ Assistant Superintendent Dr. Pansy Ceballos, administrator Dr. Guadalupe Solis and instructional consultants Charlene Stringham and Connie Smith traveled to Philadelphia to speak at the annual ASCD conference (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). The team was invited to present their efforts to assist districts in their transition and implementation of the California Common Core State Standards.
The team worried that their 8:00 Saturday morning presentation would not be popular with conference goers who could choose from 500 sessions offered over three days. Their worries were eased as the 150-seat conference room filled to standing-room only. Educators from across the U.S. crowded in to hear about the work the team has done to help school districts in Central California be better prepared to implement the new standards. The TCOE team shared the many resources they have developed, all available electronically, along with the varied professional development they have developed for teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders.
The Common Core State Standards were developed through a state-led initiative of governors and educational leaders to establish consistent and clear English-language arts and mathematics standards that better prepare students for success in the competitive global economy. The California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were adopted by the California Board of Education in August 2010 and state assessment on the new standards will begin in 2014-2015.
Since that time, the instructional consultants at Educational Resource Services have been working on a three-step CCSS implementation process: 1) the creation of tools that make the new standards clearer and easier to access and put into practice; 2) professional development trainings where teachers and administrators look deeper into CCSS execution; 3) guidance in the design and development of implementation plans for schools and districts.
In the area of language arts, the team of TCOE ELA consultants worked collaboratively in the development of three instructional tools – continuums which show teachers the progression of a strand or a single standard from Kindergarten through 12th grade, reference bookmarks for teachers to slip into their lesson plans, and templates which cross-reference many CCSS documents and are intended to serve as a planning tool. The language arts standards apply to many other subject matters including history, science and technical subjects. “Every teacher is a literacy teacher,” says Charlene Stringham. “The CCSS clearly establish the shared responsibility for literacy across the curriculum. The ELA CCSS have an expectation that one is as likely to see a critical reading or writing objective coupled with a content objective in a Science or History lesson as in an English/ELA lesson.”
Instructional consultant Julie Joseph finds that teachers are excited about the Common Core State Standards when they see their students demonstrate the ability to problem-solve and to explain their work. In mathematics, the standards are organized into both content standards for each grade level and “Eight Standards for Mathematical Practice” that are the same for all grade levels. “The Common Core State Standards represent a big shift in instruction,” says Mrs. Joseph. “But together, students, teachers, parents and administration can realize the potential to provide the structure for students to develop critical-thinking, problem-solving and communication skills they will need for the future.”
“We have invested considerable time and talent into the development of these tools and professional development opportunities,” says Dr. Solis. “Our hope is that they will support teachers in their professional learning communities and create a greater dialog about the ways we can better serve California’s schools.”
Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
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